What seems to stand out to me the most throughout these readings is the importance of tolerance. I think that with an increase of characters performing queer and fluid gender roles comes an increase in the rate of acceptance that translates into the real world. Not only do characters like those depicted in Glee continue to naturalize gay relationships, but they also show viewers that they too can live out a compelling counter narrative to stereotypical gender roles.
While I was reading I was reminded of the upcoming documentary, Bully. Over 13 million kids will be bullied this year in school, which makes it the most common outlet of violence experienced by young people in the nation. Not only does bullying resort from sexuality, but it also transcends gender, racial, and economics as well. Again, the issue that needs to be learned is tolerance! Children and adults alike need to “queer” their perspective on gender and sex norms to stop this movement of harassment, violence and assault. One of the students featured in the film is a 16 year old lesbian from Oklahoma. Due to the fierce verbal abuse of her teammates, Kelby has been forced to leave the basketball and softball team. Even with opposition from her entire town, she represents an inspiration to adolescents everywhere in that she stands up for herself and hopes to change minds in the meantime. It is through real life media representations of those like Kelby in addition to scripted roles like those of Kurt and Blaine that the public can become receptive to and identify with those performing gender in a variety of ways. I would only hope that the promotion and inclusion of gender and sexual diversity would decrease student bullying and increase overall acceptance of others.
Kirk Smalley, creator of an anti-bullying campaign insists that we must, “Go out there and find that one child, that new kid, who just moved to town, standing over there by himself, be his friend, smile, be willing to help him out when he’s pushed down, be willing to stand up for him. If we all do it together, we will change the world. It starts right here, right now.” In addition, I would argue it starts with increased media representations of the LGBT community. In an analysis by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) they report that for the first time in 4 years the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on scripted primetime broadcast television is expected to decrease. How can we hope that the next generation will be more accepting of others when this report states that the “2011-2012 television schedule found that 2.9% of series regulars are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), down from 3.9% in 2010 and 3% in 2009”?